Skip the crossword, try our 'Parade of Lies' game
Chris Hawke

Editor's Note: Chris Hawke is a graduate of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and a journalist who has reported for over two decades from Beijing, New York, the United Nations, Tokyo, Bangkok, Islamabad and Kabul for AP, UPI and CBS. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

One of my best friends is a management consultant, working at the highest levels of government. I like to think his career got its start back in high school in a game we used to play. 

He would open the complete works of Shakespeare on a random page and start reading. At some point, he would switch from Shakespeare's text and start speaking Elizabethan-sounding gobbledygook. The first person in the audience to call out his deception won.

In the latest of a string of surreal media conferences, U.S. President Donald Trump rambled on like an emperor proudly discussing his new clothes. Rather than offering indignant commentary on what CNN referred to as a "parade of lies," let's take a break from our stressful day and revisit this high school game. 

In the following four excerpts, try to pick the word where I shift from Trump's verbatim remarks at the G7 conference in France to my own words.

World leaders gather for the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 25, 2019. /VCG Photo

World leaders gather for the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 25, 2019. /VCG Photo

Excerpt One: On China's willingness to make a trade deal

The vice chairman of China, do you get higher than that other than President Xi? The vice president, the vice chairman, it's not the vice president. The vice chairman made the statement that he wants to make a deal, that he wants to see a call made, mister, he wants it all to happen. That says it there. I don't have to talk about … You folks were reporting before – 'What, we can't find any phone call.' Did he call you? No. He called me. Many, many times. I had to turn my ringer off.

Did you say "did?" If so, bingo. Fun fact, it's not only the press that couldn't figure out what phone calls Trump was referring to. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a press conference, "Regarding the phone call in the weekend, I am not aware of that." Geng politely declined to mention that Liu He's title is vice premier. Bonus points: For Trump's first question, Premier Li Keqiang and the rest of the seven-person Political Bureau Standing Committee are higher.

Excerpt Two: On China's power

The United States will have collected over 100 billion U.S. dollars in tariffs. And I say it again, the reporters fail to, the media fail to acknowledge it, but if you look at the goods coming in from China, we're talking about China, not other countries, if you look at the goods, they have a power that others don't have, but that power is only good for so long. Then China needs to increase the trade deficit to level up and restore its soft power.

If you said "then," then you are correct. Sharp readers may be scratching their head about what power Trump may be referring to here, but that would be a distraction from the more glaring issue of where the 100 billion U.S. dollars figure came from. 

Best answer? He made it up. This figure is doubly misleading. First of all, the amount of tariffs collected on goods from China is 26.3 billion U.S. dollars, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures. 

Second, that money is generally paid not by China, but by U.S. importers who in turn pass on most or all of the costs to their American or international buyers.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 25, 2019. /VCG Photo

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 25, 2019. /VCG Photo

Excerpt Three: On holding out for a better deal with China

I hear people say, "Oh, just make a deal, make a deal." They don't have the guts and they don't have the wisdom to know that you can't continue to go on where a country is taking 500 billion, not million, 500 billion with a B, out every single year, 500 billion U.S. dollars. Someone had to take on China. I am the chosen one.

If someone out there said "someone," you are correct! But this is a bit of a trick question because Trump did, in fact, raise controversy earlier this month by claiming he was "the chosen one" to take on China in a trade war.

Excerpt Four: Breaking your chain

They've lost 3 million jobs; it'll soon be much more than 3 million jobs. Their chain is breaking. The chain is breaking up like nobody's seen before, and once that happens, it's very hard to put it back together.

If you picked "The," you are wrong. Trump actually said this whole quote, apparently referencing Humpty Dumpty. It's mostly U.S. companies whose supply chains in China are being damaged by the trade war, although Chinese high tech and other companies are dependent on the U.S. for components as well.

If you got four out of four of these correct, congratulations, President Trump has a big plot of real estate in your head. 

If you scored two or three, you probably have a well-developed bull manure detector due to working with people like management consultants, politicians and lawyers. 

If you scored one or zero, you win the right to wear a red hat that says "Make [your country here] great again."

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